Measuring Minimum Award Wage Reliance in Australia: The HILDA Survey Experience

Melbourne Institute Working Paper No. 11/11

Date: May 2011


Roger Wilkins
Mark Wooden


An important group of interest for industrial tribunals in Australia is those workers who are reliant on awards for their pay and other employment conditions. Research on award reliance and its consequences, however, has long been hampered by the lack of good quality microdata. Most obviously, there are relatively few data sets in Australia that identify the method by which pay is set and also provide detailed information about individuals and the households in which they live. The HILDA Survey, however, is an exception to this, with information about award reliance, and methods of pay setting more generally, being collected for the first time in its 8th survey wave (in 2008). This paper reviews the quality of the data on award reliance that is being collected from this source. It then provides two examples of how these data can inform policy-relevant research questions: (i) to what extent are award-reliant workers found living in income-poor households; and (ii) what role does award reliance play in contributing to the gender pay gap? The results confirm that award-reliant workers are not especially concentrated in poor households, and that for award-reliant workers there is no evidence of any gender-based pay gap.

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